Learning from Tom Brokaw’s error: Update your living will

I was listening to an interesting TED talk by Tom Brokaw recently. It was Tom being interviewed by his daughter on a number of topics and one of his comments stopped me cold.

 He observed that “Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot about my living will. In fact, I’m not even sure where it is at this point.” 

brokaw2I winced but his candid confession underlined a common problem. For as many as have living wills, many haven’t reviewed them in years. As goes Tom Brokaw, so goes the nation.

In addition, many people, including Mr. Brokaw, don’t realize that a person needs a Healthcare power of attorney in addition to a living will. In fact, the Healthcare power of attorney is much more important than having a living will. A living will contains general wishes about end of life care. A Healthcare power of attorney appoints a person to make decisions for you at the end of life if you cannot make those decisions. The Healthcare power of attorney also can contain more detailed information than a living will.

It may seem a mundane practice but updating your Living Will and / or Healthcare Power of Attorney can be crucial in certain circumstances.

speak to an elder law attorney in chicago

Consider these questions:

  • Does your living will still reflect your wishes?
  • Has your relationship with your family changed?
  • Is your agent still able and willing to act on your behalf?
  • Has your health changed?
  • Have your beliefs changed?
  • Have you moved?
  • Have you discussed your wishes with your family?
  • Do you know where your living will is?

My clients have a leg up on this process, especially the latter question. I set them up on DocuBank. A DocuBank Emergency Card lets you and your doctor access your living will and other emergency info when needed.

In any case, please be in touch with your elder law attorney if your answers to any of the above questions has you thinking that it may be time to revisit your living will.
We often presume professionals like Tom Brokaw have all of their affairs together in a way that matches their public stature.

It’s reassuring to know that this isn’t always true, but you can learn from one newsman’s  oversight. Update your living will today.

That’s a news update that both you and Tom Brokaw can say in unison. 

Watch the TED talk in its entirety here.

Or just watch the relevant part here.